We have all heard or read stories that end "so after that, I couldn't believe in Christianity anymore."
Many of them are like the story Mike Adams tells of a man who stopped attending church when a close friend's two daughters died tragically in a car accident. "For him, God just couldn’t allow such a thing and still be worthy of worship and praise," Adams writes. (This story has a happy ending; not all do, of course.)
Another tries a more rational approach, claiming Science or contradictions or the like.
A third comes from the other direction, telling sad stories that amount to "not feeling it" anymore for one reason or another.
All of the stories have in common that the God of Christianity let the speaker/writer down. And that was that.
Candidly, as I mentioned, I often simply do not believe the speaker or writer. A great many of these stories range from paint-thin rationalizations unable to withstand 23 consecutive seconds of rational analysis, to cut-and-paste alibis. They're concocted or borrowed simply to cover up an overruling love for a particular sin or sin-pattern. And that's just about as deep as it goes.
Observation: the speaker/writer would invariably deny that analysis, insisting on the nobler-seeming, more solid-seeming cover story. But if there's really no God, why bother with a cover? Just get on with it, no explanation necessary. Especially if you really are no more than matter-in-motion in an amoral, careening, meaningless universe. But I digress.
So let's ask: when would it be a good, valid time to leave the God of the Bible? Simple: if He does not keep His promises.
Re-inflect: if He does not keep His promises.
I realize that is a daring statement. But I think God Himself drives us to it when He voluntarily enters into covenant, as we see it in Genesis 15. After all, what is the symbolism of only the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch passing between the pieces of animals? What is God saying when He swears by Himself (cf. Genesis 22:16-18; Isaiah 45:23; Hebrews 6:13ff.)?
All of the sad stories I've heard or read, by contrast, amount to this: I left God because He did not meet my expectations. Let's try on a few of the more popular specifics:
- Death might be a good reason to leave God if He had promised that men and women would never die. He did not.
- A tragic death might be a good reason to leave God if He promised to prevent all tragic deaths. He has not.
- Any death might be a good reason to leave God if He lacked the right to deal out both life and death. He does not.
- Misfortune might be a good reason to leave God if He promised His children, let alone everyone, exemption from misfortune. He does not.
- Inexplicable (by us) tragedy might be a good reason to leave God if He promised to prevent all such tragedies from happening. He does not.
- Hard events befalling believers of which no sense can immediately be made, and in which no good can immediately be seen, might be a good reason to leave God if He promised that such would never happen. He does not.
- Apparent contradictions in Scripture, even ones for which we've found no solution, might be a good reason to leave God if He promised that all Scripture would be simple, and equally immediately transparent to every reader. He does not.
- Lack of evidence that forces the unwilling to convert against their will might be a good reason to leave God (A) if such were even definitionally possible, and (B) if God promised to provide such. He does not.
- Lack of evidence that no one can possibly pervert, ignore, twist nor deny might be a good reason (A) if such were even definitionally possible, and (B) if God promised to provide such. He does not.
- God's failure to meet expectations we put on Him might be a good reason if He promised to be the servant of our expectations. To say the least, He does not.
To that, this:
- Assuming that God is as the Scripture says He is, what would you expect? And
- Assuming that God is as the Scripture says He is, to what higher authority could any appeal be made?
The Christian is the person who is led by God's grace to admit and embrace that truth now, thus doing willingly what all will do one day.
That's the difference. Saying it out loud is about the most offensive thing the unbelieving ear can hear, because it rips the cover right off of his dearest, doomed, damned aspiration.
But that's our calling.